MATSUI INTRODUCES BILL TO UPDATE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN OUR NATION’S SCHOOLS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) introduced the Healthier and Greener Schools Act of 2021, legislation to support America’s schools in making critical infrastructure upgrades that boost energy efficiency, reduce costs, provide charging stations for zero-emission cars and school buses, and update ventilation systems to improve indoor air quality.

The legislation prioritizes environmental justice communities who disproportionately suffer from air pollution and those communities impacted by wildfires.

“The pandemic has exacerbated existing infrastructure disparities in our nation’s schools, and we must make bold investments to give our children a healthy, vibrant learning environment,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “There is an urgent need to update or replace ventilation systems; invest in energy efficient, green technologies in schools across the nation; and reduce transportation pollution from cars and school buses. This need is even more pressing for communities of color and low wealth communities who have historically suffered from air pollution exposure at disproportionate rates and areas suffering from the devastating effects of wildfire smoke. The Healthier and Greener Schools Act of 2021 provides a path forward to address these crucial infrastructural needs and inequities in our nation’s schools. We must do all we can to protect our children’s health and give schools the tools to meet the needs of their communities.”

“Students, teachers, and families need to be able to trust that their school buildings are protecting their health and aren’t wasting community tax dollars on wasteful energy and water consumption,” says Anisa Heming, Director of the Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council. “The Healthier and Greener Schools Act would bring much-needed resources to schools in most need of assistance, and we applaud Congresswoman Matsui’s leadership in fighting for funding that prioritizes efficiency, environmental health, and environmental justice together. We encourage Congress to continue to allocate resources to bring school facilities across the country up to the standards our communities will be proud of.”

Original Cosponsors: Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY).

BACKGROUND:

As the country continues to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19, wildfires become more severe due to the climate crisis, and school districts enter the new school year, it will be crucial to establish dedicated funds to address new and existing issues with school ventilation systems. Making these changes is vital to improving indoor air quality to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the risk of toxic air pollution.

Further, as a part of our transition to sustainable infrastructure, it will be key to ensure that our schools are equipped with the latest, energy-efficient technologies. Energy costs for K-12 schools total approximately $8 billion annually nationwide, but we could save up to $2 billion of those dollars by improving energy efficiency.

The Healthier and Greener Schools Act of 2021 creates a federal grant program through the Department of Energy that would provide $100 million yearly for five years to K-12 schools to make eligible energy efficiency improvements. Those eligible improvements include the following:

  • Facility improvements for air quality, daylighting, ventilation, and lighting upgrades;
  • Installation of renewable energy technologies to power school systems;
  • Purchase of zero-emissions vehicle charging infrastructure;
  • Prioritization of environmental justice communities that have been disproportionately affected by air pollution and wildfire impacted communities.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

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